'Going through cancer treatment whilst pregnant was the scariest thing I had to do in my whole life. I didn’t know what to expect or if this would affect Cissy growing.'
Amy had been told she was unlikely to conceive a second child naturally due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis. Seven years later, she was 16 weeks pregnant with a long-awaited second pregnancy, when she received her cancer diagnosis.
This is her story...
Having had a miscarriage in the May, I finally fell pregnant straight after with my daughter Cissy. I was then diagnosed with Cordial Malignant Melanoma in my right eye, an extremely rare form of cancer.
After trying to get an appointment with my GP, Maternity Triage, and being pushed from pillar to post (as I was under 20 weeks), I took myself to Sainsbury's Pharmacy to check my blood pressure. I truly believed I had preeclampsia as my vision was blurry and I had silver speckled floaters appearing in one eye. My blood pressure was fine!
My mum told me to go for an eye test just to get them to check it over; Mums are always right some might say. If I hadn’t been pregnant, I probably would have put off worrying about the floaters in my eye and put it down to migraines. We went to get it checked at SpecSavers and they noticed something that was enough for me to get a referral.
We were told it was a mole and that an appointment would follow in a few weeks. Three days later, a letter arrived with the dreaded title ‘Ocular Oncology’. We were seen at Morefields by the consultant and it was explained that I had a mole in my eye which was malignant and I would need treatment. I had cancer and I was pregnant!
Going through cancer treatment whilst pregnant was the scariest thing I have had to do in my whole life. I didn’t know what to expect or if this would affect Cissy growing.
After meeting with the consultant again and them liaising with the Royal London and St Barts, it was agreed that the risk in placing a radioactive plaque in my eye would be too high and potentially cause miscarriage. It would also have meant having a general anaesthetic at 18 weeks pregnant and being in a room for two days, not seeing any family.
The consultant agreed the best solution would be to stunt the growth of the Cordial Malignant Melanoma on my optic nerve and have Photodynamic therapy. This would be done three times, with close monitoring until delivery; should the tumour grow concerningly, they would deliver Cissy early.
During treatment, Cissy would move constantly. I was so scared, but at the same time comforted to know that, even though my partner Jason was not allowed in the room with me, I wasn’t alone. She has been with me every step of the way.
Cissy was delivered 3 weeks early at 10:57am on 7April 2020 weighing 9lb 4oz. She was just perfect. Unfortunately, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Jason was only allowed to be present right at the end of my delivery, but I was so relieved to hold my little baby girl in my arms, to kiss her and say thank you.
Three weeks post-baby I had to go to Moorfield’s to have my eye operation to place clip markers in my eye (under a local anaesthetic, due to Covid 19 restrictions) in preparation for my proton beam therapy. A week after that I had to go to Liverpool, to Clatterbridge Cancer Hospital, where I was measured for my face mask to protect the rest of my face from the beam. Just six weeks after having Cissy I had to go to Liverpool for five days of treatment.
The sight in my right eye will completely go and I will be blind. I am currently partially sighted in the right eye due to where the tumour was on my optic nerve. I must be monitored for life and am grateful for this and for our NHS. I am unlucky to be one of the five in one million to get this type of cancer, however I am so lucky that they found it when they did. I suffer with terrible headaches and have difficulty late at night when tired and first thing in the morning. I find myself having to slow down as I’m so used to just doing things; it’s very frustrating when I accidentally drop things, and take a little longer to do things that before I would do easily and take for granted.
I can’t thank Mummy’s Star enough; Rebecca and Louise particularly for their continued support and to the founder Pete Wallroth. This charity has offered us emotional support, but also financial support, helping us get to Liverpool and all the costs that came with this, and helping pay towards the glasses/special lenses I must wear. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Please do help support Mummy’s Star because they truly do sparkle and shine when a mummy in despair needs their light! Remember every day is a blessing and every blessing is a day I’m grateful for.